Train of Consequences is the June book of the month for the Between The Lines book club, run by my friend and fellow author, L.M. Stull. As part of the June book of the month, I will be attending a book club meeting via conference call on June 29th at 7:00 pm (eastern time), to discuss the book and answer questions to book club members. Also, as a member of the book club, I posted a guest blog post on the book club website btlbookclub.com. Please check out this wonderful book club, as well as it’s founder, L.M. Stull (lmstull.com). For my regular blog readers, I have pasted my post (http://wp.me/p1q5x3-5p) here for your viewing:
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A lot of people ask me how long it took to write Train of Consequences. There are really two answers to this question. The simple answer is roughly two to three months. The more loaded answer is twenty years.
I always respond with the simple answer, though. Even so, readers are usually surprised to hear two or three months, because a good number of writers can take up to a year or more to complete a novel. But as I explain to them, this novel just flowed out of me so naturally. I averaged about 2000 words per day, sometimes a little less, but most of time it was more.
The story was already inside of me, just waiting to get out. I get funny looks from some people when I say that. But that is really how I feel about it. The main characters, Shelly and Richie, were known to me before I even named them. And as I developed the story, it was almost as if they were telling me what to write next. I was just as eager as any reader would be, to find out what’s going to happen to them.
Which leads me to the loaded answer. Twenty years requires a little explanation and ties in with my inspiration for the book. When I was just 13 years old, the age of the main characters in Train of Consequences, a friend of mine asked me to run away with him. He had a very rough home life and he felt he needed to get away, but he didn’t want to go alone. The idea of running away was compelling at that age; no curfews, no rules, big road trip. But I ultimately decided against it, mostly out of a fear of the unknown.
Ever since that day, though, I had always wondered what it would have been like. From time to time, over the years and milestones in my life, I would think back to his proposition. How differently would my life have turned out? What would have happened? What dangers would we have faced?
As I sat down to write this novel, I realized that I was attempting to answer those questions. Obviously, anything can happen when two young teens run away. But when I finished the book, I was satisfied that I had created a very real and compelling story that depicts an entirely possible set of consequences. As a writer and an avid reader, I’ve always been attracted to character-driven suspense stories that have a focus on human emotion.
In closing, the seeds of inspiration were definitely planted a long time ago, but to say that Train of Consequences was twenty years in the making would be somewhat inaccurate. So, I always give the simple answer when asked. But regardless of the time frame, finally having these wonderful characters and their moving story on paper, and to have so many supportive readers, is truly a great feeling.
He stood on the edge of the precipice; both literally and figuratively. Staring down at his toes and the unknown beyond them, he thought about his situation. He knew that his next step would define him. It would either be the best thing that had ever happened to him or it would turn out to be the worst possible mistake. There was no in-between.
And there was no way to foresee how things would go.
He felt like his whole life had been leading up to this moment. Hadn’t he known it was coming for years? As he searched his mind for the answer, a plane flew by overhead. All those people heading to their destinations, not fully knowing what awaits them, he thought. Just like me.
Behind him, the path stretched as far as the eye could see. The sides of the road were strewn with the various memories, achievements, and failures of his past. It hadn’t been easy for him to shed those things. It was one of the hardest things he had ever done. But looking back at them now, he saw them for what they were: steps along the way.
As he closed his eyes, a familiar adage came to mind; it’s now or never. With that, he turned around and said goodbye to his past forever, and then stepped off of the edge.
And as he plummeted toward the great unknown, he opened his arms, ready to embrace the choice he’d made.
I’ve noticed a couple of annoying trends while driving: other drivers crossing the yellow line and drivers on cross-streets speeding to a stop over the white line. Maybe they are on the phone? Maybe they are in a hurry? Whatever it is….cut the shit.
You’ve all seen it, right? You’re driving safely along the road, belting out some lyrics to your iPod, when suddenly some asshole is half in your lane! Sometimes you have to swerve to avoid them, sometimes you don’t – but it’s YOUR lane! Your lane is reserved for drivers heading in your direction. If drivers would remain in their own lanes, I could drive to my destination without having to visualize my neck sticking out of the gas tank of my car following a head-on collision!
Then, there are the bastards who stop abruptly at stop signs on a cross-street, with the toes of their car tauntingly stepping over the white line and into your lane! You almost always have to swerve around these people and you definitely end up having to slow down, because you’re not sure that they are actually going to stop.
It goes back to kindergarten, really. Most of us learned to color within the lines. If you’re coloring Superman’s outfit blue and carelessly cross the line, you mess it up for the other colors. Superman now has a blue line on his chin and when you color over that with your peach or beige crayon (I always preferred peach for skin coloring, but some of my fellow Crayola-Picassos preferred beige), it mixes together and screws up the picture. Before you know it, Superman looks part Smurf and even my five-year-old imagination couldn’t fathom a collaboration between DC Comics and Hanna-Barbera.
So, until Superman moves to Smurf Village, drive like you want to live, please. Or at least stay in your own lane, so I can drive with ease. In other words, color within the lines, you bastard.
On February 10th, I am excited to be a part of the West High Music Supporters’ Book Fair. As a West High graduate and a staunch supporter and lover of music, this event is the perfect fit for me! Things have been going very well with the book lately. Thank you everyone for buying and reading my book. And thank you to those of you who have been kind enough to post reviews of it. I am hoping to make 2011 the year of Train of Consequences!
I am pleased to announce that I will be at Barnes & Noble in Manchester, NH on Sunday, December 19th from 2:00 to 4:00 for a book signing. Stop by and say hello! Be sure to bring you book, so I can sign it for you. Don’t have the book yet? B&N will have plenty on-hand that day for the event. Hope to see you all there!
The title, Train of Consequences, stems from the underlying theme of the book; that, similar to the train of thought, consequences are connected to one another. Any action taken leads to a set of consequences, and any action taken to deal with those consequences, spawns a whole new set, and so on. In the book, there is a particular conversation (which takes place in a train yard), where an individual makes this observation. Additionally, during their travels, Shelton and Richie meet up with an old hobo named, Dusty, who teaches them the ways of the road. One of the things that he teaches them is train hopping. This lesson is an adventure in and of itself!
“When I pulled into the parking lot, I saw that Randy’s was now called Pippy’s Diner. Other than that, the building still looked the same. I headed inside and sat down at the counter in front of a waitress with long brown hair and cute dimples. When she opened her mouth to speak, I saw a big hunk of metal sticking through her tongue. She slithered her tongue around in her mouth, fiddling with the piercing between her teeth as she handed me a menu. If it hadn’t been for the bored look on her face, I would have thought she was propositioning me.
After I ordered a coffee, I asked her for an ashtray and pulled out my pack of cigarettes. She pointed at a “no smoking” sign and told me that New Hampshire law no longer allowed smoking indoors. I rolled my eyes and stuff my pack back in my jacket. Just great.”
– Exerpt from Train of Consequences